THE BLOG
04/04/2013 07:09 pm ET Updated Jun 04, 2013

UMass Amherst, Selective With Campus Notifications

After the alleged gang-rape at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
in October, numerous media outlets flocked to the scene. Four months
later another rape was reported on campus -- with different
circumstances -- in which both students and faculty were not made
aware.

This time around, students were solely notified through the
student-run newspaper, the Daily Collegian. Several weeks have gone by
and UMass administrators have yet to formally alert the campus
population.

UMass Deputy Police Chief Patrick Archbald states that there was no
danger posed to the rest of the campus and therefore no reason to send
emergency texts or emails.

"In this case, the two individuals knew each other, there was an
invitation, we made an arrest, there was no risk," says Archbald.

While both cases involved "acquaintances," UMass spokesman Ed
Blaguszewski said the October incident was particularly "heinous,"
leading administrators to call a press conference to announce the
arrests of four young men who are not UMass students.

Becky Lockwood, associate director at the Center for Women and
Community agreed that there was no larger threat to the university
community since most assailants are "very intentional and they choose
their victims very carefully and the majority of rapes between 70-90
percent are between people that know each other."

"And so that person doesn't really pose a threat to the broader
community because they targeted the person that they knew. They
wouldn't target you because they don't know you personally."

In the Feb. 19 case, the alleged victim was invited to a fellow
student's apartment in the North Apartments residential area, where
she later fell asleep and the alleged attack occurred, according to
UMass spokesman, Daniel Fitzgibbons. Weilang Wang, 18, was arraigned
the next day at Eastern Hampshire District Court, where he was charged
with rape, indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of
14.

"I think in this instance we responded quickly, made an arrest
quickly, made sure that the victim got the medical attention and
support she needed," Fitzgibbons said.

In late October, just nine days after the alleged gang-rape, an email
was sent to the university community from Chancellor Kumble
Subbaswamy, stating that four non-student males of Pittsfield, Mass.,
had been arrested for the rape of a female UMass student.

Subbaswamy writes, "Maintaining a safe learning and living community
is of the utmost importance to our campus. We will not tolerate this
violent behavior and I can assure you that the UMass Amherst Police
Department is working with the district attorney to ensure that the
perpetrators in this case are brought to justice."

Enku Gelaye, the dean of students, said there is a clear distinction
between an e-mail from the chancellor's office and a police bulletin.

"A bulletin from the police you usually get in text format. Its notice
that there is something eminent in the community that needs to be known
about for health and safety reasons," says Gelaye.

Gelaye believes that this particular issue did not warrant a message
from the chancellor.

"Before you read it in the newspaper, or it's processed in any other
ways, we have a responsibility to share it with the community so that
you're aware," says Gelaye. "But it's not because we determined it to necessarily be an active threat."

Channing Davisson, a North 'B' resident and rape survivor said she was
unsettled after reading about the alleged attack.

Davisson says, "It made me feel uncomfortable that that could happen
in my building and that I didn't find out from the university
directly, I had to find out in my college newspaper."

UMass student John Wilson says he had no idea of the alleged rape and
that it is pretty strange it did not get the coverage it deserved. He
believes if the administration feels the need to inform the university
when someone dies, then attacks such as this should be just as equally
important.

"It's something you hear about on the news, but you wouldn't really
expect it here," says Wilson.

Both Chief Archbald and Fitzgibbons believe these two separate rape
cases cannot be compared. In October of last semester, three of the
four alleged rapists were signed into the building by a student who
did not know them. The fourth was able to evade the front security
monitor, making his way up to the victim's unlocked dorm room.

Fitzgibbons says, "These are two very radically different incidents
that occurred and there's no blanket solution to dealing with them."

In regards to the alleged gang-rape, Blaguszewski explains why this
case needed further clarification.

"In a case like this which can be so disturbing, heinous and
sensational, if you don't get out there and try to provide people with
the information as you know it at the time, there's a vacuum and
people begin to speculate," says Blaguszewski.

Concerning the alleged rape in North Apartments this February,
Blaguszewski says both his office and campus police had to make a
judgment call in terms of what the community needed to know.

HuffPost College has partnered with the Steve Fox's investigative journalism class at the University of Massachusetts to report on open claims of sexual violence on colleges and universities, and how the institutions are responding to them.

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